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What Should I Wear?


I lived and volunteered in rural Uganda (East Africa) for 3 months. In Kampala and most of the big cities including Entebbe, Jinja and Lira, western clothes including jeans and t-shirts are completely acceptable. Tank tops are acceptable, but try to stay away from shorts. Most Ugandans don't wear them. Whenever possible, especially in the smaller cities, wear long skirts. Most of the women in Uganda wear skirts. Also try to stay modest as much as possible. Most places in Uganda are pretty laid back and most types of clothing are acceptable. I would stay away from jeans in the smaller cities though. You will get alot of stares. When traveling in the north, dress very conservatively. It is a highly Muslim area and can be quite dangerous.
Allison, Salt Lake City, Utah (2007)

United Arab Emirates

Although Dubai is one of the more progressive Emirates, how you are welcomed by the population will depend on how you dress - don't show any skin you don't want stared at - I suggest long skirts and covering of the shoulders - bathing suits in resorts and on beaches only!
Barb, Belleville, Canada

When travelling in the U.A.E., try and wear all cotton in the months of June to September. It is very humid and hot here during these months. Shorts are acceptable but make sure that they are not too short or you will be harassed.
Lynda, Dubai, UAE

I lived in the United Arab Emirate for 2 years. It is not necessary to wear a veil, as it is in Saudi, however, you should respect the Muslim culture and cover your arms and legs. It is almost always very hot and humid there. Wear long skirts in cotton or linen, and don't wear anything tight fitting. Natural fibers and sandals definitely work best. Be aware that if you do dress "provocatively" you may get pinched and patted in the markets. When I was there, people were always friendly to me, and it is a very safe country.
Lisa, Vancouver, Canada

As the Public Relations Manager of a hotel that welcomes both business and leisure travellers in Abu Dhabi,UAE, I am sending along culturally-correct clothing hints for women. Dress code in UAE: You are allowed to dress the way you like, but you will attract less attention if your dress or shirt is not sleeveless, nor stretch and you don't wear shorts or mini skirts.
Elise Sarkis-Talj, Sheraton Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom see also: England, Ireland, Wales

Don't bother to take much. Everywhere in the UK has second hand stores if you find you've forgotten something. The only exception is underwear. I take as many pairs as possible because they take so little space.
Andrea, Calgary, Canada

When travelling to England, Wales or Ireland, I found that two pairs of slacks, three turtlenecks, two sweaters, a windbreaker jacket, two pairs of shoes, gloves, scarf and nightgown were plenty for a 14-day trip in early May. If I had wanted to attend a dressy affair I would have added a black skirt and jacket, plus dressy shoes. On our trip this was not necessary since we were too tired at the end of the day for night life.Elaine, Orlando, USA

United States

I was visiting Albuquerque in late July. Being high in the mountains, the temperatures only reached the high 80s while I was there, but as this is much warmer than back home I felt shorts and tank tops were appropriate. I discovered on the first day that this dress attracts much unwanted attention, which can be avoided by dressing more conservatively. I had much fewer problems in long sleeves and long pants while in New Mexico.
Rachel, Gatineau, Canada

I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Many people think that our climate here is like (say) Phoenix. Wrong: we're at 7000 ft. Although days can get hot in the summer (90's), it always drops about 30 degrees at night and takes several hours to warm up in the morning. Also, July and August are our "monsoon" season, with brief but often violent thunderstorms in the afternoons. Spring is highly changeable (it can go from a blizzard to 70-degree weather in an hour), winter is cold but fairly dry and sunny, and fall is the nicest time of year, although still cool at night. The "layered look" is recommended. Always bring a jacket or sweater, even in midsummer. An umbrella or poncho is useful too. Downtown Santa Fe is best seen on foot, so bring walking shoes or sturdy sandals (the pavement tends to be uneven). Don't go to the opera or a concert in Reeboks and nylon jogging suits unless you want to be sneered at by the locals ("nice" pants, sandals, and a simple dressy blouse are fine). If you plan to visit the pueblos (especially on feast days), dress modestly -- bare midriffs and very-high cut shorts are not acceptable. And, in general, business people dress fairly conservatively, so if you're here on business a suit is appropriate (but flat shoes are fine, and more practical)
Paula, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

When visiting San Diego avoid neon bright clothing and fanny packs. The city is very laid back but certain things just scream "tourist." And, remember that it's a port city so avoid really skimpy clothes in the Gaslamp Quarter unless you want to be followed by packs of young sailors.
Jennifer, San Diego,USA

New York City
I've lived in NYC my whole life basically, and one of the biggest signs that scream "I'm a tourist" is wearing one of those 'I Love NY' t-shirts. Really, it's only the tourists who wear those. You'll probably never see someone wearing that shirt if they're not a tourist. Since there are so many different cultures represented in New York City, one can wear most anything.

Another thing is, during the summer months, especially late July and August, NYC can get very, very hot and humid. That said, you should probably pack clothes in light colors (like whites, yellows, cream, and the like), natural fabrics (such as cotton), shorts, sun dresses, and skirts. However, since it is so hot, most stores, movie theatres, and people's homes are air-conditioned, so it might be a good idea to also bring a sweater or light jacket.

If you're visiting during the winter months, it can get very cold, so bring sweaters, thick coats, and long sleeve shirts. Also, even though it's not snowing all the time, there can still be one or two heavy snow storms, especially during late January and February. That said, you should probably leave the stiletto shoes at home. Make sure to bring some good boots that can handle slushy, icy, snowy, and salt-covered sidewalks.

When travelling in New York City in the winter months it is essential to have a decent warm and attractive looking coat to avoid looking like a tourist and to keep the chill away. Walk with an attitude, so as not to attract attention and do not look upwards at the tall buildings. One of my NYC friends said, that way you don't look like a tourist. When looking for the great shopping in NYC instead of bringing out the map in full view of the whole street just follow the best dressed lady you can find and she'll take you right there on her heels! Wearing joggers is a no no in NYC as their attire is immaculate (p.s. this city has the most gorgeous dressed men I have ever seen).
Christine, Sydney, Australia

Arizona is a very varied state. The first part of my clothing advice pertains to the "deserty" parts of the state. For the daytime, especially in summer, light, loose, comfortable, breathing clothing is best, preferably in light colors. Believe it or not, covering up a lot of skin surface in something light and loose will keep you cooler than if you wear something like shorts and a tank top. You will need to either bring sunscreen or buy some here; minimum SPF 15 is recommended. A wide-brimmed hat is somewhat common, and recommended even if no one else is wearing one.

Deserts cool off very quickly at night; even in the summer you will probably need a light jacket if you will be out at night.

For the mountainous country, temperatures will range up to twenty degrees F. cooler than the deserts -- Take that into consideration; this also goes for the Grand Canyon -- It can be cold there, even in the middle of summer. Also, if you are traveling outside the cities, heels, open-toed shoes, and shorts/skirts are not recommended -- the ground can be very rough.

Mostly, Arizona is a fairly casual state. You don't really need a lot of formal clothing, unless you are planning on attending a business function or a society event. Mostly, relax, be a bit careful of the sun, and have fun -- It's an incredibly beautiful place.
Diane, Phoenix, USA

For visits to San Francisco, whatever the time of year, make sure you have a variety of clothes to layer - . the key to comfortable San Francisco dressing is layering. Even on a warm "summer" day its wise to bring a sweater along, especially if you are going out in the evening. The fog can come in fast and is very chilly! While San Francisco can be almost "U.K." in temperature, surrounding areas to the south and east can be much warmer, so you may need shorts and tank tops as well as sweaters and pants if you are going to be roaming around the Bay Area.
Brenna, San Francisco

Just a word of advice for female visitors to Texas. In the summer months we share Mexico's climate. This means that lightweight and light-colored cotton clothing works best. A wide-brimmed hat gives shelter from the unremitting sun; a light long-sleeved jacket is nice for protection from frigid air-conditioning (movie theaters are especially cold.) Expect daily rain in Houston -- heavy tropical rain (umbrella required). You can get away with wearing jeans and a nice blouse almost anywhere in Austin, but other cities will require more dressing up for entrance to the "better" places. Rural areas can be very conservative, so dress accordingly.
Marilyn, Texas, USA

I travelled in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas. When travelling here in the summer months the wind can definitely pick up, so have a pair of sunglasses to ward off flying sand/dust. Light clothes are a must, but in Mesa Verde National Park, never wear things that can flap up! (It's windy) Always carry water, even if you're not a big water-drinker.
Emily-Anne, Port Alberni, BC, Canada

I travelled to New York City. The Rainbow Room at the top of Rockefeller Center is a delightful place for visitors. No place is nicer to view the sunset. But THEY HAVE A DRESS CODE! I'm not sure of all the restrictions but - you may not wear Birkenstocks or similar sandals. You may not wear anything that resembles jeans, including nice neat black expensive ones. Men must wear jackets and, I believe, ties.
Clare, Rhode Island, United States

Appropriate clothing varies greatly within the US. Each region of the country has different norms. I grew up in Baltimore and am attending college outside of Washington, DC. Although these cities are less than an hour apart, the way people dress is very different. DC is very conservative. However, it is probably impossible for you to not look like a tourist. The best thing to do, as everything in the DC area is very expensive, is bring black or earth toned clothing that is attractive and sensible (neon fanny packs are not an option) and learn to scope out the latest styles while you ride the metro. Up in Baltimore things are very different. On the street anything goes, so long as its not too bright a color. You can go into churches, museums, cemetaries, etc. in shorts if you like but you really shouldn't.
Rachel, Washington, DC, USA



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